Five Athletes Retire From the Senior Women's National Team

WINNIPEG - (September 18, 2012) - Since the conclusion of the 2012 Women's NORCECA Olympic Qualification Tournament in May, 2012, five athletes have retired from the senior women's national volleyball team.

Each of them significantly impacted the past quadrennial in their own way. Throughout the next couple of weeks, we will feature these athlete's stories and experiences. To begin, we will focus on libero Julie Young of Red Deer, Alta.  (in photo) and left side, Tonya Mokelki of Weyburn, Sask.

Julie Young, Red Deer, Alta.

Julie first competed for the senior women's team in 2008 in an exhibition series versus a professional club team from Japan. From that competition until the 2012 Women's Olympic Qualification Tournament for the London Olympics, she was on the senior roster as a libero and played most competitions as the main libero, playing in 68 international matches. Previous to the senior team, she already had Team Canada experience as she played on both the youth national team (2002) as well as the junior national team (2004).

Julie played her CIS volleyball for the University of Calgary Dinos. During her CIS career she received numerous awards, including: CIS Championship All-Star, Second Team All-Canadian, Academic All-Canadian, Can-West First Team All-Star and the University of Calgary Athlete of the Year during her graduating year in 2008.

Julie helped Team Canada qualify for the 2010 FIVB World Championship in the fall of 2010. Afterwards she played her first professional season in Germany. She played her second and final professional season in Finland. After Canada did not qualify for the London Olympics, Julie received news from the University of Calgary that she was accepted into their Education program, and is now in university studying to be a teacher. She is currently giving back to the sport of volleyball by coaching 5 days a week with the Volleyball Canada Centre of Excellence (VCCE).

Here is what she has to say about her experience playing on Team Canada:

"Being apart of the national team had always been a dream for me and actually being able to live my dream has been amazing! I have learned so much about myself and about my teammates and have built so many life long friendships. You go through struggles and successes with your best friends at your side, you can't say that about many professions. I will never forget that feeling of walking out behind my flag and singing our national anthem with the maple leaf on my chest, it sounds so cliche, but it has been a real honour to represent my country at such a high level. I hope the next generation of athletes understands what a unique opportunity this is and to never take it for granted. Being apart of the national team has shaped me for the better and has prepared me for my next chapter of life as a coach and a teacher. I want to thank everyone who has ever helped me on my journey as a volleyball player and thank you team Canada for being able to make my dream a reality."

Tonya Mokelki, Weyburn, Sask.

Tonya first appeared on a Team Canada roster in 2002 when she traveled with the junior national team to Puerto Rico for the Junior NORCECA Championship. She then played four seasons in the NCAA playing for Colorado State University (CSU) graduating in 2007. That summer she returned to the national training centre where she trained with the senior B team as they prepared for the FISU Games. She didn't make that roster, however, the next summer she made her first senior A roster competing at the 2008 Pan Am Cup in Mexico. She was on the remaining rosters for the rest of the quadrennial, including the 2010 FIVB World Championship. Following that competition, she played her first and only season of professional volleyball in Germany. She played in 71 international matches.

Throughout her four years at CSU she was received the Mountain West Conference (MWC) All-Academic award, and in 2006 and 2007 she was on the Mountain West All-Conference volleyball team. She also received the Colorado State University coaches award when she graduated in 2007.

Tonya recently just bought a house in her hometown of Weyburn, Saskatchewan. She is embarking on a new career in a financial institution and continues to give back to the volleyball community by coaching.

The following are some thoughts from Tonya since retiring from Team Canada:

"You know how that saying goes "You don't know what you had until it's gone", well this I think is what retiring from Team Canada has been like. While you're there in the mix of things that's all you know, it's your life, your identity. You even kind of come to take it for granted because it's so "normal" for you. At first retiring just felt like I was on one of our regular breaks. When try-outs were starting it defintiely felt wierd knowing I wasn't there but when it really hit home was when the team was away competing. I don't regret my decison of retiring, I think it was the right time for me to do it, but i defintiely miss the training, the entire staff, and of course my team mates. The girls were basically my closest friends for 6 years of my life. They were always there, a constant support system. Playing for Team Canada was amazing and I feel so priviledged to have had the opportunity to represent my country. It truely is an honor like no other."